What We Do or What We Get

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Birmingham]On: 10 October 2014, At: 13:26Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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    What We Do or What We GetRobert H. KitePublished online: 30 Jan 2008.

    To cite this article: Robert H. Kite (1968) What We Do or What We Get, The EducationalForum, 32:3, 265-275, DOI: 10.1080/00131726809340359

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  • THE EDUCATIONAL FORUM

    VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 3

    MARCH 1968

    What We Do or What We Get ROBERT H. KITE

    URING the 13th century, the intel- D l e c t u a l lights of the University of Paris were dimmed for fifty years by the shadow of the cathedral chancellor who maintained strict jurisdictional con- trol over both masters and students. Not until Pope Gregory IX issued his Bull, Parem Scientiarumin 1231, did the insti- tution emerge into the full light of in- tellectual inquiry as masters again were given control over students through delegation of adequate judicial powers. Although other disputes arose, the mas- ters retained their supremacy in the uni- versity throughout the Middle Ages.

    The differences in hierarchical ar- rangement between medieval ecdesias- tics and contemporary American educa- tors need no elaboration. More striking

    W e h e h e an ancient issue in a new context of collective negotiation. ROBERT H. KITE i s Director of Secondary Curriculum in Palm Beach County, Florida. This article is an adaptation of a speech delivered at the Educational Sum- mer Conference on Professional Negotiation at the University of Mississippi. June ao, 1967.

    are the parallels. Once again teachers are demanding professional autonomy in the interest of their students. But, tem- porarily at least, their achievement rec- ord is spotty.

    Aside from the usual timid souls, part-time dilettantes, and those other- wise economically secure, there is no lack of fervor in teacher ranks. Primar- ily the problem lies in a lack of coordi- nated effort against the citadels of gov- ernmental status quo and the indiffer- ence of a public, tuned to more strident demands on their tax dollars.

    For the most part, the successes which teachers thus far have been able to se- cure result from the exercise of one of two options-collective bargaining or professional negotiations. Similar in ob- jective, the two processes theoretically differ vastly in approach. But the differ- ences are narrowing in the press of ri- valry and unrequited need.

    Collective bargaining involves four basic steps: ( I ) a bargaining agent (or

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  • 266 W H A T WE DO OR WHAT WE G E T [March

    agents) is selected by a majority of the employees; ( 2 ) a conference is arranged between employers and selected agents; (3) employers negotiate on all particu- lars of the controversy and offer coun- terproposals; and (4) an agreement is reached, the terms of which are written into a contract binding upon both par- ties.

    These four steps are incorporated in the National Labor Relations Act. How- ever, public employment is exempt from the provisions of this act. This implies that state and federal labor laws and court decisions pertaining to collective bargaining originated without concern for their pertinence to public employees, including teachers. Left dangling is the question as to the authority of school boards to incorporate into a valid con- tract any agreement reached through collective bargaining.

    Public employees are treated in a sep- arate category because the primary mea- sure used to bring pressure upon em- ployers is the strike. Judicial decisions against teacher strikes have been ren- dered in the absence of state statutes ex- pressly permitting public employees to strike. Neither a union nor an employer has the right under the National Labor Relations Act to compel the acceptance of its proposed terms. Thus, without the ability to strike, collective bargaining loses much of its force. Both the Na- tional Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have no-strike policies.

    Professional negotiations, on the other hand, are a set of procedures de- vised to facilitate negotiation between

    teacher associations and school boards through professional channels. Negotia- tion is pursued on matters of common concern in order to reach a mutually sat- isfactory agreement. Provision is made for mediation and appeal in the event of an impasse. According to the NEA, professional negotiations are character- ized by the following four el.ements:

    A provision for teachers representatives and the board of education to meet and express their views each to the other.

    Each, in good fahh, listening to the views of the other and taking the others views into consideration in coming to a decision; both negotiating problems on which they do not at first agree.

    A provision to deal with an impasse, whether the impasse be caused by the board, by the association, or by what seems to be the most obvious (but seldom mentioned) cause: the simple fact that the two honestly cannot agree.

    Final decisions jointly determined by the teachers representatives and the school board, with, when necessary, the assistance of other educational agencies.

    Professional negotiations, therefore, provide the means to assure that educa- tional channels, rather than industrial-la- bor channels, are used to deal with dis- putes between teachers and boards of ed- ucation. School board members and teachers are assured access to a process that can resolve critical problems amica- bly without either ihe board relinquish- ing its legal authority or teachers violat- ing their professional obligations. Fail- ure to attain this end has in recent in-

    Martha Ware, Professional Negotiations, N E A Journn2 g r : 2 8 - 3 0 (November, 1962), p. 28.

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  • 19681 ROBERT H. KITE 267 stances led to another alternative-sanc- tions.

    The use of sanctions perceptibly nar- rows the gap between collective bargain- ing and professional negotiation. In fact, state and local education associations, goaded by the cynicism of long denial, are beginning to combine some of the best features of the two approaches into a new concept of conflict resolution, most often characterized as collective ne- gotiations.

    Conflict Tolerianee The tolerance level of conflict pos-

    sessed by an organization is determined by the extent to which the purpose of the organization is impaired by power conflict. Methods and procedures exist in every organization to resolve conflict. If the tolerance level is constantly being tested, the organization is forced to pro- vide new and more effective methods of resolving conflict; the containment of conflict must remain within a level of tolerance. The underlying rationale and purpose of collective negotiation is the internal accommodation of power con- flict within the educational organization. Collective negotiation makes two as- sumptions: first, conflict between groups within an educational organization exists and, second, parties to the conflict have the necessary power to go beyond the level of conflict tolerance.

    A loss of conflict tolerance is usually caused by a change in power alignments within an organization. Efforts to de- velop procedures to deal with conflict may result in processes specifically de- signed for the resolution of power con-

    flicts. Collective negotiation provides a formal process for the mutually satisfac- tory resolution of problems and is more than an elaborate structure of communi- cations. I t is a process which alters the existing decision making process.

    Let us examine these two essential in- gredients. of the collective negotiation concepts: conflict and power.

    Con$kt School boards, administrators, or bud-

    get review committees do not lose their power within a process designed for con- flict resolution. Power possessed by in- traorganizational levels is not elimi- nated, or, in the case of legal restric- tions, is not violated by collective nego- tiations. Unilateral and arbitrary deci- sions by one segment of educators are no longer possible in the process design. The re-allocation of power is caused by the introduction of a new force. Power units remain but their influence is al- tered in the presence of new units of power. The countervailing forces of col- lective negotiation compel the accommo- dation of emerging and existing units of power and result in attempts to resolve inevitable conflict.

    Who is in conflict? Very often the answer to this question is assumed. The AFT has no apparent problem in deter- mining where conflict is going to occur, which groups within education are in op- position, and which procedure is needed to accommodate group conflict. Their belief that a hierarchy exists within edu- cation and that the levels of the hier- archy are in conflict places teachers in opposition to administrators and boards

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  • 268 W H A T WE DO OR W H A T WE G E T [March

    of education. The NEA demonstrates a somewhat more flexible attitude. How- ever, there are definite signs that the NEA will continue to become more like the AFT, Who is in conflict is a question neither organization has satisfactorily answered.

    School districts have demonstrated conflict in many areas within them- selves: between school boards and real estate boards, between school boards and outside pressure groups, between princi- pals and teachers, between secondary principals and elementary principals, be- tween coaches associations and classroom teacher leadership. Obviously, these power conflicts have nat exhausted the tolerance level significantly, as have con- flicts between teachers and school boards.

    Conflict is not constant; it varies in source and in intensity. This brings into focus the critical question of whether various relationships within education should be structured for continuous con- flict resolution. I t would seem to make little sense for teachers to marshal power components insufficient to attain their ends.

    Power Underlying both collective bargaining

    and professional negotiations is the con- cept that both parties to a dispute pos sess power and that the power may be applied to the resolution of conflict. Power is the ability to do something or to effect something. Power is demon- strated when one group has control or at least significant influence over other groups. Such words as strength,

    might, and force are readily asso- ciated with the concept of power. Power is the ability to force alternatives. You do this or else! Raise our salary or well strike! Accept tenure or we will call a professional day! Meet with our repre- sentatives or we will impose sanctions! Groups within education have a power potential which even they, much less other parties to their conflict, have not yet come to realize.

    Power is derived through constitu- tional provisions, legislation, judicial de- cisions, administrative law, and bodies with policy prerogatives. Less formal sources are political inff uence, wealth, prestige, and tradition. The most impor- tant source of power, as far as educators are concerned, is organization plus num- bers. Organization is the antecedent to such power displays as picketing, boy- cotts, strikes, sanctions, and impasse en- durance. Organizations which develop machinery for the determination of bar- gaining units, majority representation, exclusive representation, union shop, dues checkoff, right to bargain, develop- ment of an enforceable agreement, grievance procedures, and binding arbi- tration have attained an effective base of power.

    Organization, however, is the neces- sary prerequisite. Power without organi- zation is aimless and unproductive. The sources of power are many and varied and are available to well organized teachers. Power has always been avail- able to educators; the difference be- tween teachers of the past three decades and teachers of the sixties has been a changing attitude towards the use of

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  • I 968 I ROBERT H. KITE 269 power. This is caused in part by changes in the composition of the profession. In 1964-65, 15 percent of all elementary school teachers and 54 percent of all sec- ondary school teachers were men. This, coupled with higher standards of selec- tion, better teacher training, greater rec- ognition gained by women, and the emergence of young, bright, dedicated people interested in education has re- sulted in a new force. Educational or- ganizations possess mass plus strong leadership. This organized new force, sometimes referred to as the new mili- tants, is conscious of the prerequisites of power. They are aware of the ingre- dients of democracy and believe that ed- ucators should participate in the deci- sions that determine the future of educa- tion. They are not afraid to engage the status quo and even risk the disaster to education of a power impasse.

    Bargaining in good faith should be ca- pable of...

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